Pagosa Springs’ Aqua Sol combines the best bits of a bar and a juice bar

by Nick Gonzales

What do you get if you combine a juice bar with a real bar and then add in some Mediterranean food? The answer, it turns out, is Aqua Sol, one of Pagosa Springs’ newest eateries.

Pagosa beverage connoisseurs might be familiar with The Juice Goddess, a juice bar that served smoothies, acai bowls, matcha green tea, vegan snacks, and the like. Well, it’s gone now. Sorta.

The Green Goddess has evolved into Aqua Sol Waterfront Eatery + Bar, which opened on Labor Day on the far eastern end of town. In addition to the interior and the bar, the restaurant has two tiers of outdoor seating: a patio immediately adjacent to the building and overlooking the San Juan River, and a lower area next to the river itself.

We dropped by on a warm but partly cloudy day in late September to check out the part of the restaurant that intrigued us the most: the booze-infused juice-based cocktails. (We weren’t hungry at the time, but the savory and spicy smell we got as a gyro passed by our table pretty much ensured that we’ll head back for food sometime soon.)

We started with the “Juice*d Goddess Margarita,” the drink that seemed the most like an homage to the bar’s previous life. The margarita is a combination of cold-pressed juice and tequila, with lime, jalapeño, cucumber, pineapple, cilantro, and ginger, garnished with Tajin and a lime.

The juice ingredients were delicious and seemed very much like something you’d get at a healthful juice bar, and surprisingly, the addition of the tequila certainly didn’t alter that much. The cucumber and cilantro were the two most prominent flavors, which, assuming you’re one of the people who perceive cilantro positively (rather than as soapy and rotten), is quite refreshing. The jalapeño-ginger combo carries a bit of a bite, and if you combine that with the agave holding the Tajin to the rim as you sip it, it adds an interesting secondary flavor.

[image:2]After that, we tried “The PB-OB” — pineapple juice, orange juice, coconut milk, dark rum, and Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey. (If you’re looking for a quick chuckle, head to Skrewball’s website, where the marketing photos feature a bunch of young Californians having the time of their lives sitting on roofs and cliff diving on a hot summer day. You know, like everyone totally does when they’re drinking whiskey that tastes like peanut butter.)

Anyway, the cocktail had an unusual but pleasant taste — our server insisted on sticking around to watch our faces as we took our first sip. It reminded us of a smoothie you’d order at a spa. The only reminder that you’re drinking a cocktail is the flavor of the rum.

As our final cocktail, we decided to get a frozen drink — The White Walker Slush (“because winter is always coming” says the menu) — a frozen piña colada. It intrigued us largely because of the “A Song of Ice and Fire”/”Game of Thrones” connection. The White Walkers and House Stark, from whom the motto is lifted, are both from the cold, northern part of Westeros, whereas a piña colada seems like something you’d drink somewhere tropical, such as Dorne.

[image:3]It turned out, though, that Aqua Sol didn’t have all the White Walker ingredients quite yet, so we ordered the “Daydream Slush,” the frozen margarita. Made with lemon, lime, and orange juice, it tasted a bit fresher than your average frozen margarita — but not as fresh as the Juice*d Goddess. After a few sips, we began to notice that it does that thing where the liquid part of the beverage was easy to sip away from the drink, leaving a bunch of ice behind. We had to wait a while for the ice to melt and become drinkable again, but we enjoyed both the margarita and the bar where we were drinking it.

Nick Gonzales


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